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Case for Support

Introduction
Community colleges have a rich tradition of offering access to a college
education at the most affordable price. There are 28 community colleges in
Michigan. These colleges had a total enrollment of 473,307 students in the 20112012 school year. Of this population, over 280,000 students were enrolled in
credit programs and almost 193,000 were enrolled in non-credit/personal
enrichment courses, according to the Michigan Community College Association.
This population of students paid an average of $86 a credit hour compared to the
average credit hour of a public university of $400 a credit hour.
Community colleges allow for any person to enroll regardless of their age,
race, aptitude, test scores or any other limiting rule. The average age of the
community college student is about 26 years old. About 57% of the students
enrolled are female and almost 20% are African American. The open door policy
of community colleges is essential for many citizens to have an opportunity to
enroll in college. The open-door model has brought to community colleges a
diverse, rich, untraditional unique student population. This population has been
welcomed by community colleges and described by Myran (2009) when he
states,
The term open door is a condensed expression of the democratic and
egalitarian principle on which community colleges are based: the spirit of
hope for a better tomorrow for all who seek it; the belief that talent and
ambition are very widely contributed in our society and not the province of

the elite and privileged few; the faith that people from all walks of life can
overcome barriers and achieve great things; the devotion to an inclusive
campus environment of acceptance, understanding, and caring; and the
commitment to serving as a community-based education resource in
addressing problems that create barriers to student success such as
poverty, unemployment, racism, drugs, and crime.It is also an
expression of all the ways in which community college professionals
value, empower, motivate students who bring to the college unique racial,
ethnic, national, gender, age socioeconomic, geographic, educational,
cultural, religious, physical, lifestyle, and other perspective. (p. 2).

Relevance
It has been clearly stated through a countless number of researchers and
research studies that community colleges provide an opportunity to those that
need it most. But, who pays for all of these underprepared and underfunded
students? The community college was set up to be funded by the public. It is a
three-tiered system: the state, local property taxes, and tuition. In the past ten
years, state appropriations and property taxes have taken a steady decline.
There was a time where tuition was the lowest percentage of revenue to
community colleges and now it is the most. In the state of Michigan, state funds
equal approximately 18.9%, local property tax is 32.1% and tuition is about
44.7%. This trend has made the community college inaccessible in some cases.
Students can not afford to pay money out of pocket for their college expenses.

According to the Michigan Community College Association (2014), 31% of


students receive Pell grants, 14% receive federal loans and only 10% receive
some type of campus-based funding. The dream of attending college is coming
to an end for those that need it most because of these staggering trends.

The Plan
Community Colleges need to have continued support and elevated
support to maintain the accessibility that they were established to provide its
citizens. Without financial support from legislators, tax payers and private donors
the ability for traditional and non-traditional to enter college will no longer be an
option. This will hurt their future as well as the economic growth of our
communities, counties, states and nation. We need to reach out for your support
of this critical mission. Public support is needed but an increase in private
donations is a mandatory supplement that is needed to maintain the quality
education our public needs. Community colleges in the State of Michigan
granted more than 25,000 associate degrees and over 12,000 certificates in
2012.
These degrees and certificates help to maintain, stabilize and increase
economies by adding qualified, educated and skilled workers to the work force.
Without a skilled workforce companies are forced to move to different nations to
find a workforce that can produce their goods and products. This is not
something that America can afford to happen.

The Time is Now


Since 1979, state funding for community colleges has decreased from
49% down to 19% in Michigan, according to the Michigan House Fiscal Agency
(2011). This trend has increased tuition and fee costs at community colleges.
According to CollegeInSight.com, student loan debt at four-year universities has
climbed to an average of about $29,000. Students need your help to access and
afford college. Community colleges still remain the most accessible, quality and
affordable choice for the majority of the population. Without your help, dreams
will become unrealized and we all will suffer the consequences.